NU minister combines psychology, prayer

Susan Du

Campus minister Beth Knobbe led a prayer workshop at Sheil Catholic Center on Saturday, which was attended by 12 Sheil associates and Evanston residents as well as one student.

The workshop explored various prayer styles and how different personalities may benefit from different approaches to prayer. It started with group discussions about prayer and prayer practice. Afterward, Knobbe taught attendees to apply the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality test that she believes can help determine what prayer methods a religious person should use.

The workshop took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eleven attendees were Catholic and one was Presbyterian.

“This event is done through the Sheil Catholic Center so we definitely come at the subject of prayer from a Catholic perspective, but anyone with an understanding of Christianity could benefit from this,” Knobbe said.

Knobbe said she is not trained in psychology, but she is interested in the Myers-Briggs test and other psychological theories.

“Besides prayer, Myers-Briggs is often used for company team-building exercises and for personal counseling,” she said. “It’s important for people to realize that their personality does have something to do with what they get out of prayer. Typically, prayer is something personal, but extroverted people may benefit more from a communal form of praying.”

Weinberg freshman Beata Luczywek said the psychological element of the workshop attracted her.

“I hope to walk away with more creative praying techniques,” Luczywek said.

Knobbe discussed praying without necessarily receiving a “response” from God, personalizing ritualistic Catholic prayers and just finding the motivation to pray.

A handout Knobbe gave to participants suggested everyday responsibilities can get in the way of spirituality. Luczywek said perhaps that’s why she was the only student who showed up.

“I guess it might be because it’s nearing the end of the quarter that people don’t have time,” she said. “Also, it’s early on a Saturday morning.”

The participants of the workshop also broke into small groups to discuss other topics, including praying for people with terminal illness.

Chicago resident Dana Marinacci, who has been undergoing chemotherapy on and off for the past five years, said at the workshop that she found prayer therapeutic even though she struggled with her faith from time to time. She said the support she finds in group prayer is indispensable to her well-being.

“I find myself wrestling with God over everything I’ve gone through,” Marinacci said. “But apparently he thinks I can handle more.”

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